Labour seeks help for key seats

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The battle for votes in Yorkshire’s key General Election seats intensified yesterday as Labour launched a new push for party members to compensate for its lack of funds.

Labour has said it will seek to win over target seats in the region by recruiting an army of volunteers and party members to knock on doors.

While Labour has received more donations than the Conservatives in Yorkshire, nationally the party’s finances are in a far more difficult position.

In the 12 months up to the 2010 General Election Labour received some £20 milion in cash and other donations. But over the last 12 months Labour has seen just £4.2 million in major donations, with an extra £10 million from union funds.

At a launch for new party members in Brighton yesterday, party leaders admitted they would have to find a different way to fight the Conservatives.

Across Yorkshire the likely election battlefields are already being eyed up by campaign organisers. Tory seats facing a difficult election include Pudsey, which could be won with a national 1.7 per cent swing to Labour, Dewsbury with a 1.4 per cent swing, Keighley with 3.1 per cent and Elmet and Rotherwell with a 4.1 per cent swing.

Other seats further down the target list include Cleethorpes with a 4.8 per cent swing, Colne Valley needing a 5.3 per cent swing, Brigg and Goole on 5.9 per cent and Calder Valley on 6.2 per cent. The Liberal Democrats’ Bradford East seat is the most winnable constituency for Labour.

The party was last night focusing its attack on the Conservatives. Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher, handed a leading General Election role by Ed Miliband, said the Labour plan was to match Conservative funding with feet on the ground.

Mr Dugher said: “The Tories are clearly going to be reliant on a few multi-millionaire bankers and hedge fund bosses to bankroll their election campaign as their membership figures in key constituencies such as Pudsey continue to plummet.

“But we’ll do things differently, by ensuring its local communities getting involved to help Labour win.

“That is why these reforms are so vital for victory. If the Tories think they can outspend us two or even three to one, we know we can outnumber them with boots on the ground in key seats by just as much.”

Stuart Andrew, Conservative MP for Pudsey, said Labour was kidding itself if it thought the Tories lacked a grassroots base in Yorkshire.

He said: “It’s a bit rich for him to talk about being bankrolled when their party is in the hands of the unions who are their paymasters. Let’s not forget that their candidate in this constituency is Unite’s choice as listed in their leaked document.

“I have a brilliant band of volunteers with more joining each day. It was thanks to their fundraising and hard work out campaigning that in the local elections in May, the total votes across this constituency showed us topping the poll and beating Labour. “

Labour nationwide programme to sign up new registered supporters was launched by Gloria De Piero yesterday.

She said: “I know - and Labour knows – that there are thousands of people in every community who care about the future of our country but feel no-one will ever listen to them. These reforms we are launching in Brighton and Hove today represent a real chance to get their voice heard louder and clearer than ever before.”